LETTER FROM THE EDITORS
The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your e-mails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards. I don’t want to live in a society that does these sorts of things. … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.
—Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower
He knew in advance what O’Brien would say: that the Party did not seek power for its own ends but only for the good of the majority. … The terrible thing, thought Winston, the terrible thing was that when O’Brien said this he would believe him. You could see it in his face. O’Brien knew everything. A thousand times better than Winston, he knew what the world was really like.
—George Orwell, 1984
I think it’s important for everybody to understand, and I think the American people understand, that there are some trade-offs involved. You know, I came in with a healthy skepticism about these programs. My team evaluated them. We scrubbed them thoroughly. We actually expanded some of the oversight, increased some of the safeguards. But my assessment and my team’s assessment was that they help us prevent terrorist attacks. And the modest encroachments on privacy that are involved in getting phone numbers or duration without a name attached and not looking at content—that on, you know, net, it was worth us doing. That’s—some other folks may have a different assessment of that. But I think it’s important to recognize that you can’t have a hundred percent security and also then have a hundred percent privacy and zero inconvenience.
He shall spurn Fate, scorn Death, and bear
His hopes ‘bove Wisdom, Grace, and Fear.
And you all know, Security
Is mortals’ chiefest Enemy.
—William Shakespeare, Macbeth
There is a massive apparatus within the United States government that with complete secrecy has been building this enormous structure that has only one goal, and that is to destroy privacy and anonymity, not just in the United States but around the world. That is not hyperbole. That is their objective.
—Glenn Greenwald, columnist
If there is something comforting—religious, if you want—about paranoia, there is still also anti-paranoia, where nothing is connected to anything, a condition not many of us can bear for long. … Either They have put [Slothrop] here for a reason, or he’s just here. He isn’t sure that he wouldn’t, actually, rather have that reason.
—Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
We have now arrived at the principal object of the Laws: the care of security. This inestimable good is the distinctive mark of civilization: it is entirely the work of the laws. Without law there is no security; consequently no abundance, nor even certain subsistence. And the only equality which can exist in such a condition, is the equality of misery.
—Jeremy Bentham, Principles of the Civil Code
For the laws of nature (as justice, equity, modesty, mercy, and, in sum, doing to others as we would be done to) of themselves, without the terror of some power, to cause them to be observed, are contrary to our natural passions, that carry us to partiality, pride, revenge and the like.
—Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
In the last analysis, “love of thy neighbor” is always something secondary, partly conventional and arbitrary—illusory in relation to fear of the neighbor. After the structure of society is fixed on the whole and seems secure against external dangers, it is this fear of the neighbor that again creates new perspectives of moral valuation. … Here, too, fear again is the mother of morals.
—Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
—Excerpt from Florida’s Stand Your Ground law
Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.
—Malcolm X, “Message to the Grass Roots”
You can stand your ground if you’re white, and you can use a gun to do it. But if you stand your ground with your fists and you’re black, you’re dead. In the state of Florida, the season on African-Americans now runs year round. Come one, come all. And bring a handgun. … One man accosted another and when it became a fist fight, one man—and one man only—had a firearm. The rest is racial rationalization and dishonorable commentary.
—David Simon, creator of The Wire
Thus grew up a double system of justice, which erred on the white side by undue leniency and the practical immunity of red-handed criminals, and erred on the black side by undue severity, injustice, and lack of discrimination. … When, now, the real Negro criminal appeared, and instead of petty stealing and vagrancy we began to have highway robbery, burglary, murder, and rape, there was a curious effect on both sides [of] the color-line: the Negroes refused to believe the evidence of white witnesses or the fairness of white juries, so that the greatest deterrent to crime, the public opinion of one’s own social caste, was lost, and the criminal was looked upon as crucified rather than hanged. On the other hand, the whites, used to being careless as to the guilt or innocence of accused Negroes, were swept in moments of passion beyond law, reason, and decency. Such a situation is bound to increase crime, and has increased it.
—W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk
In the case of the American Negro, from the moment you are born every stick and stone, every face, is white. Since you have not yet seen a mirror, you suppose you are, too. It comes as a great shock around the age of 5, 6, or 7 to discover that the flag to which you have pledged allegiance, along with everybody else, has not pledged allegiance to you. It comes as a great shock to see Gary Cooper killing off the Indians, and although you are rooting for Gary Cooper, that the Indians are you.
—James Baldwin, “The American Dream and the American Negro”
The injustice inherent in the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman was not authored by a jury given a weak case. The jury’s performance may be the least disturbing aspect of this entire affair. The injustice was authored by a country which has taken as its policy, for the lionshare of its history, to erect a pariah class. The killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman is not an error in programming. It is the correct result of forces we set in motion years ago and have done very little to arrest.
—Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Trayvon Martin and the Irony of American Justice”
Listen, I’m going to be honest with you. This is a practice that I engage in every time I am stopped by law enforcement and I’ve taught this to my son, who is now 33, as part of my duty as a father to ensure that he knows the kind of world in which he’s growing up. I take my hat off and my sunglasses off, I put them on the passenger’s side. I roll down my window, I take my hands and stick them outside the window and on the door of the driver’s side because I want that officer to be as relaxed as he can be when he approaches my vehicle. And I do that because I live in America.
—Levar Burton, actor
There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me.
The issue of “law and order” has recently become prominent … [but] instead of seeking to understand its origin, many radicals—along with most of the liberals—interpret the need for order as incipient fascism. They argue that productive workers are so strongly committed to the existing industrial system that they will gladly opt for fascism to preserve it. … [T]his view confuse[s] a commitment to order and economic security with a commitment to capitalism as such.
—Christopher Lasch, The World of Nations
When we finally achieve the full right of participation in American life, what we make of it will depend upon our sense of cultural values, and our creative use of freedom, not upon our racial identification. I see no reason why the heritage of world culture—which represents a continuum—should be confused with the notion of race. Japan erected a highly efficient modern technology upon a religious culture which viewed the Emperor as a god. The Germany which produced Beethoven and Hegel and Mann turned its science and technology to the monstrous task of genocide; one hopes that when what are known as the “Negro” societies are in full possession of the world’s knowledge and in control of their destinies, they will bring to an end all those savageries which for centuries have been committed in the name of race. From what we are now witnessing in certain parts of the world today, however, there is no guarantee that simply being non-white offers any guarantee of this. The demands of state policy are apt to be more influential than morality. I would like to see a qualified Negro as President of the United States. But I suspect that even if this were today possible, the necessities of the office would shape his actions far more than his racial identity.
—Ralph Ellison, Shadow and Act
What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of them may be turned against our liberties, without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms.
The thirst for liberty does not seem to be natural to man. Most people want security in this world, not liberty. Liberty puts them on their own, and so exposes them to the natural consequences of their congenital stupidity and incompetence. Historically, it has always been forced upon the masses from above.
—H. L. Mencken, Minority Report
The friction among men, the inevitable antagonism, which is a mark of even the largest societies and political bodies, is used by Nature as a means to establish a condition of quiet and security. Through war, through the taxing and never-ending accumulation of armament, through the want which any state, even in peacetime, must suffer internally, Nature forces them to make at first inadequate and tentative attempts; finally, after devastations, revolutions, and even complete exhaustion, she brings them to that which reason could have told them at the beginning and with far less sad experience, to wit, to step from the lawless condition of savages into a league of nations.
—Immanuel Kant, “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose”
“They seem to have things under control,” I said. “Who?”
“Whoever’s in charge out there.”
“Who’s in charge?”
—Don DeLillo, White Noise
Our laws are not generally known; they are kept secret by the small group of nobles who rule us. We are convinced that these ancient laws are scrupulously administered. Nevertheless, it is an extremely painful thing to be ruled by laws that one does not know.
—Franz Kafka, “The Problem of Our Laws”